As you might have noticed in my news column to the right, this promised, upgraded soundtrack CD has been going through quite a few changes and delays since Télé 80 first announced it back in July of 2012. At the time, it was scheduled for November of that year, then pushed back slightly to January 2013. Long before we reached January, however, Télé 80's distributon company XIII Bis suddenly went bankrupt, postponing all scheduled CDs indefinitely. Surprisingly, though, these problems led to some happy, unexpected changes. Télé 80 found a new production company (Balthazar Music) and a new production team, and at the same time became an independent label - all of this resulting in increased budgets and production values for their CDs, now targeted more towards collectors. Money is being spent on remastering the music, and cover art and labels look much better than on the old XIII Bis releases. Case in point: The revised cover for the upcoming "Inspecteur Gadget" CD, revealed on Facebook back in March, is in my eyes a vast improvement over the first cover draft. (Notice the tagline "Versions originales remasterisées", which is used on all the new Télé 80 CDs to separate them from the earlier XIII Bis products.)
The new and improved Gadget cover is utilizing illustrations from IDP Home Video's French DVD edition of the series (three box sets released in 2004-2005). I think this is a smart choice: The IDP DVD covers are very well drawn (much better than any of the old LP covers), with faithful, on-model renditions of the characters. Plus, using these illustration elements means that Télé 80 can compose their designs with a lot of freedom, moving around characters and backgrounds to get suitable motives for the CD format.
But enough technical stuff - let's move on to what everybody wants to see. Here it is... the exclusive sneak peek of the track list, as well as the inside part of the CD booklet!
|Close-up of the track list (click to enlarge)|
|The full inside part of the CD booklet (click to enlarge!)|
As promised, 30 tracks - and they're all original Levy/Saban pieces as far as I can tell. Everything from the French and Australian LPs is combined at last, and we also get some additional theme song versions. For those who might be more familiar with the English-language titles for these tracks, below is the track list with English titles and explanations added by me. (Note: I decided to use the Australian record as reference for some of the English titles here, as they sounded better than the English titles seen on the French LP.)
1. Inspecteur Gadget / Inspector Gadget [French vocals]. 2:38
2. La chanson de Finot / Brain the dog - The song [French vocals]. 2:02
3. Le thème de Sophie / Penny's Theme [French vocals]. 2:31
4. Gadget sur Mars / Gadget on Mars. 1:30
5. Le fantôme / Ghosts. 1:55
6. Musée de l’art fou / Mad Art Museum. 2:09
7. Gadget au Japon / Gadget in Japan. 2:07
8. L’usine de chocolats / Chocolate Factory. 2:02
9. Rodéo / Rodeo. 1:38
10. Thème du Docteur Gang / Mad's Theme. 2:14
11. Héros dans la jungle africaine / Heroes in African Jungle. 1:52
12. Gadget chez les Incas / Gadget with the Incas. 0:58
13. Fais gaffe / Look Out. 1:36
14. Gadget en difficulté / Gadget in Trouble. 1:14
15. Désert d’Arabie / Arabian Desert. 1:17
16. Gadget le sophistiqué / Sophisticated Gadget. 1:37
17. Thème du train / Train Machine. 1:57
18. Le royaume / Kingdom. 2:03
19. La course de voitures / Car Race. 1:15
20. Les pharaons / Pharaohs. 1:33
21. Le thème de Finot* / Brain The Dog. 1:10
22. Gadget en Italie* / Italian Gadget. 1:05
23. Thème du Docteur Gang (reprise)* / Mad's Theme [alternate version]. 2:12
24. Thème d’ouverture (Instrumental) / Opening theme [instrumental U.S. opening]. 1:15
25. Le thème de Sophie (Instrumental) / Penny's Theme. 2:29
26. Inspecteur Gadget (Version TV) / Inspector Gadget [French opening theme]. 1:13
27. Inspector Gadget (Opening TV) [U.S. opening theme]. 1:15
28. Inspector Gadget (Ending TV)* / Gadget Closing [U.S. end credits theme]. 0:42
29. Inspecteur Gadget (Générique du film) [?]. 2:27
30. Inspector Gadget Theme* [extended U.S. theme song]. 2:50
22 of the tracks (1-20, 24 and 25) represent the content of Saban Records' original French LP edition: Three theme songs with French vocals, 16 pieces of background music and three instrumental themes. However... fans already familiar with the French LP should probably be particularly interested in the additional music from ABC Records' Australian edition: Tracks 21, 22, 23, 28 and 30, which I've marked with *. "Le théme de Finot" (Brain The Dog) is an instrumental background music theme for Brain, while "Gadget en Italie" (Italian Gadget) is another piece of background music used towards the end of season 2. Both of these are great and especially "Brain The Dog" makes the soundtrack feel more complete, as the French LP didn't include any instrumental themes for Brain. (Note, by the way, that these two tracks have been given new French titles for this CD based on the English-language titles, as they were never released in French by Saban.)
Then we have "Thème du Docteur Gang" (Mad's Theme), which is an interesting chapter in itself. You'll notice that this composition is included twice on the CD, first as track 10, then as track 23 as a "reprise". This is because the French and Australian LPs actually included two different arrangements of this theme. It's the same composition, but orchestrated slightly differently throughout (in addition to the most obvious difference: M.A.D. Cat is meowing in the French soundtrack version, but not in the Australian soundtrack version). It's a curious question why Shuki Levy chose to re-arrange this theme for the 1986 Australian LP, considering it had already been released on the 1983 French LP... but I'm guessing he just did it for his own enjoyment. Whatever the reasons, I love the fact that two versions of this theme exist, and that both versions will soon be available on one CD. (I don't know for certain if track 23 on the CD is the Australian version, but I'm guessing it is since the chronology during the first 20 tracks sticks relatively closely to the French LP).
Tracks 28 and 30 are two of Shuki Levy's original American theme song variants - the latter an extended version of the U.S. theme song, and the former a soundtrack version (in stereo!) of the U.S. end credits theme. These tracks have their natural place on a collector's edition of the soundtrack.
Even better, though, this CD also gives us one English-language theme that was not included on any of the earlier soundtrack albums: Track 27, "Inspector Gadget (Opening TV)". This is the original, American opening theme, to many the most iconic version of Shuki Levy's famous theme song; definitely iconic to anyone who grew up with the English-language version of the series. It's wonderful to see it included. I don't know any technical details, but my hope is that Télé 80 has gotten hold of the stereo version of this theme song, i. e. the version Shuki Levy has up on his official web site. The thing is, there have been a few American CD compilations featuring this song in the past - for instance Television's Greatest Hits, Vol. 3 - 70's & 80's and Toon Tunes - Funny Bone Favorites - but as far as I know, those CDs have always used a mono version of the theme. The version on Levy's site, though, is in stereo, and I assume that's how the theme song was originally recorded. (The stereo/mono difference is easy to notice if you listen to the song through a headset.)
In addition to all that, we get two French bonus tracks which I hadn't seen coming; tracks 26 and 29 to be precise. "Inspecteur Gadget (Version TV)" is the TV version of the French theme song, sourced from (I believe) the storybook record "La Malédiction Du Roi Toutankharton". (Arguably, the end credits theme "Inspecteur Gadget (Fin)" could also have been included from this record -- but having listened to both themes, I will say that the "Fin" theme admittedly sounds almost completely similar to the middle part of "Inspecteur Gadget (Version TV)". Still, as a diehard fan I wouldn't mind getting the "Fin" theme on the CD as well.)
Track 29, "Inspecteur Gadget (Générique du film)", is actually a bit of a mystery to me. At first, I was wondering if it was a French-dubbed version of the Disney movie theme song, but I'm currently speculating that it might be the A-side of this Saban single: "Inspecteur Gadget - Bande originale du film et de la série télévisée". This was a single released in France in 1987, concurrently with a theatrical cartoon feature titled "Les dossiers secrets de l'inspecteur Gadget", which consisted of several season 2 episodes edited together. I had thought that the "Bande originale du film..." single included the same version of the "Inspecteur Gadget" song as earlier French vinyls, but the Discogs listing notes that 'a different (unknown) singer' performs the theme song here, describing the voice as "...closer of "Daffy Duck" (nasal voice)". So, provided that this information is true, it sounds like the French 1987 theatrical feature had an alternative version of the French theme song, which was also released on the 1987 Saban single. Most interesting!... I'm very curious if the "Générique du film" track on the CD turns out to be this theme song. :)
Anything else? Visually speaking, I think the interior booklet is nicely designed, just like the cover. The one gripe I have with the interior motive is seeing Capeman in there. I realize it's a matter of personal taste, of course... Capeman WAS part of the original series (the second season, anyway)... and he's even in one of the episodes where the track "Gadget en Italie" (Italian Gadget) is played. (Still, he's such an awful character! At least I'm glad he doesn't get to stand next to Gadget, Penny and Brain.)
Otherwise, there are a few (very minor) track title inconsistencies when compared to the French LP: "La course de voitures" was originally titled "La course de voiture", "La chanson de Finot" was originally titled "La chanson de Fino", and "Thème du Docteur Gang" was originally titled "Thème du Dr Gang". As I said, very minor, and it's the kind stuff that only the most nit-picky fans will notice. Still, this is a collector's edition, so maybe those titles could be revised for 100% accuracy with the original LP.
In any case, I'm looking forward to this CD. If the sound quality lives up to the track list, this will be the best and most complete edition of Shuki Levy's Inspector Gadget soundtrack to date! It will of course not contain the 100% complete soundtrack - Saban's master tapes remain officially lost for all the background music that was never released on vinyl - but for the first time, all the score music that survives from various releases over the years will be gathered on one attractive CD. If you're still considering whether or not to buy this, have a look at the classily designed disc label as well. The vinyl design is a great touch.
Oh, that's right: Now that Télé 80 has gone independent, their new Balthazar Music releases are limited to smaller pressings of about 500 copies per CD. So if you plan to get this soundtrack, it might be a good idea to mark your calendar right away for September 30... which, I might add, will be perfect timing for Gadget's 30th anniversary this fall.
Big thanks to Télé 80 for letting me present these news!